Chip Carving Class - Quilt Squares #6: Lesson 3: Pattern Development

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Blog entry by MyChipCarving posted 03-12-2011 11:15 PM 26181 reads 4 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Lesson Pacing (reply requested) Part 6 of Chip Carving Class - Quilt Squares series Part 7: Lesson 3: Pattern Development, Part 2 »

Lesson 3: Pattern Development

The project we are tackling in this class is a chip carved quilt. Quilt patterns lend themselves
very well to chip carving. Geometric in nature, various elements of a quilt pattern can be removed
to create a carved version of the fabric quilt.

If there is a quilter in your household, no doubt there will be a book, magazine, or quilting
journal in the bookcase, magazine rack, or under the bed (maybe only in my house). Get one out and
page through it thinking of chip carving rather than quilting. Look for triangles, squares, floral
shapes, and straight lines.

Not to worry if there isn’t a quilting publication in your house, go online and Google “quilting
patterns”. Click on the “Images” tab on top and waalaa…4,110,000 images in 0.32 seconds.
When looking to develop a pattern for a project like ours, this is quilt pattern chip carving paradise!

Take this pattern for instance…

This pattern is a combination of equal size triangles which, you’ll find out very soon, are the
first shape learned in chip carving. Many quilt patterns are made up of various size triangles. Larger chips (triangles in this example) are more difficult to remove than smaller chips. But the good news is that every quilt pattern I can think of that has large shapes, can be modified to be more chip carver-friendly by sub-dividing the large chips into several smaller chips. This makes them more manageable while still preserving the visual appeal of the quilt pattern.

In this example…

The triangles shown on this quilt square can be carved as can some or all of the trapezoid shapes shown in pink and dark red. This square pattern can be re-sized and then copied numerous times to fit the surface being carved. Pattern work like this can be done with tracing paper, pencil and a copy machine. For many years when I first started chip carving, that was how I developed all of my patterns.

Now I perform most of my pattern work using my computer, scanner, and printer. Copying, pasting, resizing, repositioning, cropping, and other repetitive and sometimes monotonous work can be sped up when using a computer. I still enjoy drawing patterns on my drafting table, but some pattern work is best left to Microsoft!

Pattern development for our project
The squares you will be carving are 3.75” and 5.75” square. Allowing 1/4” border so you don’t carve
right up to the edge leaves 3.25” and 5.25” square space to carve inside. All it takes is a straight
edge, pencil, and quilt image to get started! If you are more of a tracing kinda person, using
graphite transfer paper works well.

If you prefer, I’ve created some patterns that you can use to carve some squares. These patterns
will be available early next week when we start carving!

Have some fun with this pattern development. You don’t have to be an artist to create some really
cool chip carving patterns. Starting with quilt patterns is a good place to begin as there are
plenty of examples to work with.

The trivet shown below was designed and carved using a common quilt pattern. I hope this inspires you to
try creating your own quilt square patterns.

Post your questions and comments below.

Next Lesson: Chip Carving Essentials

Marty Leenhouts Chip Carving

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

8 comments so far

View rtibbs's profile


1 post in 2714 days

#1 posted 03-13-2011 12:55 AM


View Merrill's profile


9 posts in 2722 days

#2 posted 03-13-2011 03:32 AM

Will it work to print a pattern on to a clear, sticky-back sheet of plastic then stick it to the block to be carved then carve through the plastic? Seems like it should work, anyone try it? I have such sheets of plastic and I know that modern printers will print on it.

I did read the posting rules and see no problem following them. I look forward to talking with others. I enjoy chip carving, just not very good at it. I have help put quilts together as a kid years and years ago. I’ll check my daughters books, she’s into quilting in big way. Maybe when I show her some of this she’ll decide to try chip carving too. She does carve houses in cottonwood bark.

If I understand right, I’m to come up with my own pattern, if possible? I’ll try, will be all exchange patterns latter?

I’m ready, sharp knife, I think and my blocks arrived yest4erday.


-- Merrill, Cody, Wyoming

View MyChipCarving's profile


604 posts in 3207 days

#3 posted 03-13-2011 05:13 PM

Hi Merrill,
I’m glad you are ready to move ahead. You raised a couple of questions.

1. Carving through plastic (or paper). I’ll be covering a couple of ways to transfer your pattern to the wood. I know some chip carvers that apply a paper pattern to the wood and carve through the paper. I don’t recommend this as the grain of the wood is not visible. While your plastic is clear, I’m not sure how it would be to carve through it. You can always try it and if it doesn’t work so well you’ll have learned from this experiment.

2. I’d like to encourage you to come up quilt patterns for our project on your own. This is not required. I’ll be providing some patterns as well. Exchanging patterns is a good idea.

More postings coming very soon…

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3678 days

#4 posted 03-13-2011 06:27 PM

This is getting interesting

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View DavidBass's profile


12 posts in 2722 days

#5 posted 03-14-2011 05:49 PM

This is so cool! I never considered using quilting patterns. After you explained it makes so much sense. It is a great idea for a nube like myself.

Thanks for the tip!

For me I will go with “pause”. I will need a day or two to get settled into this one.


View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3416 days

#6 posted 03-15-2011 12:46 AM

Some of those quilting patterns were pretty interesting Chip.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jacksgrands's profile


6 posts in 2720 days

#7 posted 03-15-2011 04:35 AM

I am, as one of the bloggers stated it, “into quilting in a big way”. That’s one of the reasons why I jumped on this chance to learn to chip carve better as I’m a true newbie, having only done a few golfballs. Wood is totally different….less forgiving. I tried a few of your Christmas ornament patterns and wasn’t thrilled with my results. I’m sure it’s just a “practice makes perfect” situation.

-- Marsha

View philphoto's profile


23 posts in 3139 days

#8 posted 03-17-2011 01:47 AM

I like the patterns but I confess to a certain amount of laziness in that I rely on my computer and CorelDraw. After I finish the image I print it from the laser printer (or photocopier) and then place the image face down on a prepared wood surface, I iron the image down. Just using a household steam iron without the steam, on the highest heat, iron the image until the paper is browned a bit. Slowly peel the paper, checking to be certain of good transfer. One must be careful and not lift the image before it is ready. Ironing the image a 2nd time will only create a double image.
I know—lazy—but my eyes do not work as good as they used to.

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